Instead of exchanging the traditional card, chocolates, and flowers this Valentine’s Day, one couple decided to do something a bit more special and exchange ‘I do’s’ instead.
Kenneth and Charlene Smith of Lexington, North Carolina, tied the knot in the Hospice Davidson County, where Kenneth, 72, is receiving treatment for cancer, after his sister paid them a visit and insisted that they wed then and there, or she would refuse to visit again.
But while the wedding might not have been entirely their own idea, the couple made sure the ceremony was done in their own special way; instead of opting for the usual wedding attire, they both decided to support their favorite football team, the Carolina Panthers, by both wearing Cam Newton T-shirts and Panthers hats.
Valentine’s wedding: A North Carolina couple tied the knot in a hospice on Valentine’s Day
Friends and family: The pair were surrounded by those who loved them on their special day
The hospice shared of photo of the cute couple along a caption that said:
‘Today, surrounded by close family and friends Lexington couple Kenneth and Charlene Smith married in the chapel Hospice of Davidson County Hinkle Hospice House where Kenneth is a patient.
‘Together for 25 years, the avid Carolina Panthers fans donned their favorite Panther gear to celebrate their love this Valentine’s Day’.
Admirers of the couple, including the Carolina Panthers themselves, have expressed on social media their enthusiasm and joy for the happy pair.
On the day of the Smith’s wedding, the Carolina Panthers tweeted: ‘Thank you Smith family for including us in your special ceremony. We are deeply honored!’
Biggest fans: Instead of going the traditional route, the pair decided to sport gear of their favorite sports team
Loving smiles: The couple, who have been together for 25 years, smile at each other during their nuptials
The Panthers head coach, Ron Rivera, even took to his personal Twitter account to congratulate the couple.
He said: ‘Congrats and God Bless your marriage Kenneth and Charlene Smith.’
And on Friday, Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis even delivered gifts to the couple and a note from the team’s coach.
Thomas told The Dispatch: ‘It is always important for our fans to know and understand that we love them and care for them.’
Happy: Charlene flashes a smile while Kenneth throws up a peace sign
‘I do:’ Charlene said she was thinking about the ‘word of encouragement’ for their marriage
‘We appreciate them believing in us, and when you have a unique situation like Mr. Smith you definitely want to make sure that as a player, you are able to come out and just be hands on.’
‘Today was all about coming here and seeing him and showing him and his wife that we appreciate them.’
Thomas brought the newly married couple an array of Panthers gear such as a personalized jersey with Smith’s name on it and Panthers hats which Thomas signed himself.
Charlene and Kenneth have been serious fans since of the Panthers since they were founded in Charlotte in 1995 and never miss watching a game.
Surprise visit: Carolina Panthers linebacker, Thomas Davis, visited the couple and even brought them gifts
Notes from the coach: Along with the gifts, Thomas also brought a note from the Panthers head coach, Ron Rivera
Speechless: Charlene covers her mouth in shock as she’s surprised by Thomas Davis
But Kenneth wasn’t used to seeing his favorite players up close and, at first, didn’t even recognize Thomas.
Kenneth said: ‘It was kind of embarrassing because I didn’t know who he was at first but it was very special.’
It was also very special for Thomas who said that he admires Kenneth’s positivity and spirit in the face of a cancer diagnosis.
He said: ‘I love Kenneth’s spirit, love his energy, love the message that he is giving to his family right now. He is just keeping them positive in light of what he has going on. It is truly important to them and their spirit moving forward.’
And Kenneth plans to keep moving forward and his spirits high with the help of God.
Gifts and greetings: Thomas said that it’s ‘always important for our fans to know that we love and care for them’
Gifts galore: The linebacker brought Panthers hats which Thomas signed himself
Number one: Also included in the gifts was a personalized jersey for Kenneth with his last name on it
Kenneth told The Dispatch: ‘I feel great because Jesus is here. If you are sick and going through something, know God has you in his hand. I am thankful.’
Family also shared a string of ‘congratulations’ messages to the couple along with one family member who posted: ‘Aww we didn’t even know that they was gonna do this.’
According to the Greensboro News and Record Charlene didn’t plan to marry on Valentine’s Day.
Over the weekend, Kenneth’s sister came and told them she would not come back to visit unless the couple were ‘one in God’, Charlene told the publication.
Panthers pride: Thomas said that the visit was all about showing the couple that the team appreciates them
Tears of joy: Family members gather around Kenneth and Thomas
Serious fans: Charlene said that she and Kenneth were serious fans who never miss a game
Loving embrace: Charlene gets a hug from Kenneth during Thomas’s visit. She said of her new husband that she ‘loves him so much’
‘We had been planning and planning to do it. I didn’t even think about the fact we would be married on Valentine’s Day.’
‘I was thinking about the word of encouragement. I love him so much.’
This isn’t the first time a North Carolina hospice has had a wedding in their chapel.
Last March, Christopher and Patricia Armstrong made sure their dying infant son, Conner, was present for their wedding, by tying the knot at a Lexington hospice center where their son was a patient.
‘We were told we didn’t have much time left with Conner. So we wanted him to be at the wedding,’ Christopher said.
Patricia added: ‘We are just appreciating every minute we have with him. It’s been scary. It’s been emotional, but it’s well worth it.’